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When does worker injury cross over into a personal injury issue?

Under Oregon law, nearly all workers are expected to be covered by workers' compensation insurance. This is the vehicle through which a person who suffers an injury on the job is supposed to be assured that they will get the medical help they need.

This coverage is also supposed to make sure that the worker put out of commission by an accident isn't thrown into financial hardship. It does this by providing wage replacement at a rate of about two-thirds of normal pay. Certain conditions may apply, so it's always important to know what terms of coverage call for. But as information from the Oregon State Bar notes, the wage replacement benefit is not taxable.

But workers' compensation also serves as a safety valve on legal liability. By providing this insurance, your employer typically can't be held to account beyond the limits of the insurance policy. But that does not always mean that all avenues for seeking due compensation have been cut off.

For example, imagine this situation. You are a construction worker at a multi-story job site. On the ground, a third-party contractor is operating a lift machine that's hoisting a pre-fabricated wall up to you for installation. All of a sudden, the forklift accessory on the lift falls off and it and the wall comes tumbling down on you.

Workers' compensation would be expected to cover you for the medical care and wage replacement you require. But because a third party was involved, it may be possible to press a claim for personal injury. If the injury winds up being fatal, a claim for wrongful death may be possible.

To determine whether a case exists, it's important to determine whether the accident was the result of the third party's negligence. Because this can be difficult to do under limits the law, an experienced attorney should always be consulted.

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